Service user training story

Warning!!! Warning!!! Difficult Service User.

Close your eyes and let me take you on a journey. You are going down your advocacy paths. Think of me like weather. Think of me like snow. I am here to interrupt your journey. I lie thick and sludgy dripping into your road, getting between your layers, turning to ice, and making holes in your advocacy journey.

Nothing here will be nice. Nothing will be friendly. I’m not hoping to be supportive. But I hope you take it as an opportunity for learning.

You can open your eyes now. You know where we are going. Let me tell you where I’m from.

I was born with a physical impairment. Leaving my mother’s womb I was struggling to survive due to my impairment. I was given to the NHS. Are you proud of the NHS? A lot of you are aren’t you? Maybe we are all their service users. But do you know what they do to disabled people? they poke us they prod us, they drug us, test us, experiment upon us. They want to fix, treat and cure and then they find they can’t so they drop us. And through all this time they are telling you and everyone around you in your communities, in your societies that we are bad, we have something wrong with us. Its not enough that they gave you a label for your condition, they have to go slap a value on it and those values are being used now. the deserving poor, the undeserving poor. The ones we will give benefits to, the ones we won’t. Us scroungers, us work shysters, we who broke Britain, and caused the sick note culture. So, they and their administrators, their leaders they are always getting rid of us. Hitler had some very effective strategies for this didn’t he?

The next thing they did was to wrap me up and post me off to a very special school or as they called it then a school for delicate children. They have done this for me because I am a delicate, withering flower and I need to be cared for. See how they value me. See how they send me away from family, away from friends, away from community. See how they send me to a new hierarchy. Heads of this, heads of that, teachers, house masters, house mistresses, dormitory leaders, table monitors. thugs. Every single one of them. See how they oppress you, see how they give you tasks they know you can’t do, just to undermine you, make you red-faced, cause you grief, cause you pain. See how they treat the first vegetarian I ever met. See how they forced meat into his mouth and see how some of them shove other pieces of meat into other holes and understand the dilemmas. Understand that they won’t let you speak, that they tell you that you cannot tell, for if you tell the most awful thing yet will befall you and consider how you might best survive this. Me. I used to run and hide, abscond, spend the night beneath the stars, close to trees, testing my body to survive the rain that was falling down, all around me.

And let me tell you about the education they give you about the way they equip you for the outside world. Well you can pray to god, you can be thankful there are others worse off than you, you can go and dig the garden or run about on the sports field before coming in for lunch, then spend time sleeping on camp beds set up for you in the gymnasium, before fitness tests, blow ping-pong balls up sloping tables, blow feathers in the air, press ups, touch ups. Wind ups.

I got by, I survived. I got out. I mainstreamed. The only disabled child in the new school. And I was fun. It was great fun to poke fun at me, a wonderful fun packed time to be spat at, to be slapped, to be punched, to have my ears flicked. The best part of all this fun and laughter, the great thing was I would never, well not for a few years anyway, fight back. And when I did fight back, I would never lose. I might hardly ever win but if you get knocked down the best thing is to just get up again. Take it on the chin again.

See the system for what it is. See how they want to impair you further, see how they take your voice away and drive you into mental distress and turmoil see how they want to make you stupid, see how they want to lead you into abuse and violence. Understand what it means to survive, understand what it does to us. Understand what it means to you as advocates when the society that you live in, the class systems that you are a part of, the professional groupings that you are becoming qualified to join through your certification, understand what all that does and what it leaves you with.

People like me. the undermined, the beaten, the betrayed, the stupid, the de-skilled, the disenfranchised, the disabled people, the ones who sink like i sank, the ones who drowned, the ones who died, the ones who came back, with anger and pride driving them, the ones who drove themselves, proving daily in every way that we are as good if not better than you, Because we got this from you and we came back with better. Understand why we challenge and understand why we are challenging.

And understand that you need to check who you are and where you are going now. Because if you want to say you’re sorry, then i can only seek to piss on pity and best check the choices too, the options that you are opening up to me as a disabled person as I become older, whilst our independence/freedom movements are under attack. Because I tell you this. I don’t want to die in a nursing home. I’d rather go to jail than die in a nursing home.

And wonder finally why you weren’t there as Advocates when I needed you, ask yourselves why I never knew you existed. It’s not enough to say you didn’t even exist then. Because someone, somewhere was being incredibly irresponsible and all I want from my Advocates are Advocates who will be responsible. Advocates who take responsiblity for where they are on the journey, Advocates who understand the real story and Advocates who use it to enable my people to move forward.



  1. Colin said

    When I think of you I think of wind.

    • detrich said

      Many thanks for extending the weather metaphor Co. May the advocacy wind be fresh and blow hard when need be but be as gentle as a summer breeze when enabling

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